The Antonio Brown Week 17 meltdown, where he undressed and left the field at MetLife Stadium, has been replayed and discussed over and over. We’ve heard numerous accounts from Brown and Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, but very little from the players who were actually on the field and can attest to what really occurred.
Buccaneers Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans (the only receiver in NFL history to start his career with eight consecutive 1,000 yards receiving seasons), says he had a conversation with Brown prior to his infamous departure in the Jan. 2 road game versus the New York Jets.
Mike Evans is a leader. Antonio Brown is a coward. pic.twitter.com/G2JG9crf4t
— Old Row Texas A&M (@OldRowAggies) January 2, 2022
Evans says he was trying to let the mercurial Brown know the team needed him. Brown claims the team tried to make him play injured, something they adamantly denied, as he was being limited after just returning from injury.
AB and Evans…😳 pic.twitter.com/gnRQbKRrn1
— 𝗗𝗝 (@DJBucsFan) October 20, 2021
Evans says he did his best to talk Brown out of walking off, but Brown wasn’t for any of it. In a recent interview with the New York Post, Evans had this to say:
"I just didn't want him to go out like that, so I'm telling him, 'Please don't go out like this.'"@MattHarmon_BYB recently caught up with Mike Evans to talk about Antonio Brown's abrupt in-game exit from the Bucs and more.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) February 15, 2022
“What I remember is we’re trying to get him to come back in the game. He was saying he wanted the rock. And I mean, rightfully so. We should get him the rock. I mean, he’s an unbelievable player. But like, ‘Yo, come in the game, AB.’ So we’re asking him to come in the game. We’re on offense. And I’m like, ‘AB, big bro, come on. Let’s go in the game. They’re calling for us,’ because me and him are both on a pitch count. Because we’re both coming back from injury. And so I’m trying to get him to come in the game. And he doesn’t come.”
Brown continued to refuse to enter the game even with offense on the field. Evans details how he came to the sidelines after a couple plays and Brown is still refusing to enter and arguing with head coach Bruce Arians.
“So I go back on the drive. I do my two plays. I come out. And then I see Bruce Arians still trying to get him to come back into the game. And they had like a falling-out somehow. AB goes off. And he’s about to take his pads off. I’m trying to grab his pads and tell him like, ‘Yo, big bro.’ Because me and him have a relationship.”
— No Jumper (@nojumper) January 2, 2022
Brown proceeded to run through the end zone, tossing his jersey into the stands as he exited the stadium. Immediately following the game Arians announced that he was no longer a member of the team.
Brown Was Reportedly Complaining About Targets Or Lack Thereof:
ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed that Brown was pissed about his lack of involvement in the game plan during halftime of the game. Brown reportedly lost his cool and had to be restrained by teammates.
“On another note to this saga, per Bucs sources: At halftime of Sunday’s game against the Jets, Antonio Brown was agitated about not the getting targets he was expecting to during the game and had to be calmed down.”
So, basically, he was in a Keyshawn Johnson “throw me the damn ball” zone.
Brown reportedly had incentives in his contract for catches, yards and touchdowns that equaled $1 million dollars. Having missed time with a nagging ankle injury Brown, was hoping to be targeted enough to reach those incentives.
In Brown’s rebuttal to the Bucs’ version of events, was he said he was pressured into playing despite not being healthy.
“Because of my commitment to the game, I relented to the pressure directly from my coach to play injured,” AB claimed. “Despite the pain, I suited up. The staff injected with what I now know was a powerful and sometimes dangerous painkiller that the NFLPA has warned against using, and I gave it my all for my team.”
A few days later the Buccaneers terminated the contract of Brown, and even mentioned that they’d scheduled an evaluation with an outside specialist, but Brown never complied. His refusal to go back in the game plus his halftime blowout were uncalled for, but to leave the field mid-game, there’s no turning back from that.
Arians on the exchange:
“He refused to go in the game. That’s when I looked back and basically saw him wave off the coach. I then went back, approached him about what was going on. He said I ain’t playing. I said … ‘What’s going on?’ He replied ‘I ain’t getting the ball.’ That’s when I said you’re done, get the F out of here. That’s the end of it. We are working on Carolina, that’s the end of the story. Hopefully, it ends today.”
Brown Has Moved On, Become President Of Donda Sports: He’s Actually Been Quiet
Since that fateful day in New Jersey, Brown has been seen regularly with rap and fashion mogul Kanye West. Brown may be done on the gridiron, but he’s already begun his new endeavor as president of Donda Sports. We will never know what could have been had Brown played out the season for the Bucs.
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